Kurt Helin

Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings

Jim Buss defends Byron Scott as Lakers coach, “He has the Laker blood in him”


Byron Scott has been questioned as the Lakers’ coach for a lot of reasons. For using Kobe Bryant heavy minutes early last season, leading to health problems for the star. For using an old-school, dinosaur of an offense. For not using advanced metrics and analytics. For not developing players. The list goes on.

But he’s not being questioned — or at least doubted — by the one guy whose vote matters, co-owner Jim Buss.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in a couple different articles, Buss defended Scott and his job as coach.

“He has the Laker blood in him,” Buss said. “[Mike] D’Antoni and Mike Brown, they weren’t Lakers. They loved the Lakers and they tried their best and I think they’re both great coaches.”

“Having that history of the Lakers from the very beginning of when [the Buss family] bought the team, gives you such a family sense. He’s a coach, a brother,” said Buss. “He gets it. He’s a strong personality. He believes in himself and the Lakers.”

Laker blood? This sounds like the lines the late Al Davis used as the Raiders struggled — trumpeting some mystical bond in the organization over smart decision making.

Buss also said the Lakers are using analytics more than people realize.

“We’ve been using them for quite a long time. That’s basically [on] what I make all my decisions, is my own analytics.” Buss said the team has relied on an analytics staff for “six [or] seven years, but before that we were breaking down shot charts, everything we could get our hands on.”

What made the Lakers great for extended periods was not just that they had the resources of a big market (something the new CBA stripped from them to a degree), but also that they spent those resources wisely. They had the best coaches, they thought outside the box, they had a team identity then got players that fit it, they identified and went after talent before others caught on (trading for a young Kobe Bryant on draft day may be the best example).

The Lakers are rebuilding now and we’ll see over the coming years how their decision making works out with young players such as D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. What they Lakers have to show now — something that organizations such as Golden State, San Antonio and other elite teams have — is that the Lakers can develop those players. Do the Lakers have that infrastructure? Is Byron Scott the guy to do it? And what kind of team are they building, what is their identity?

The answers to those questions determine whether or not there is success. Not “Laker blood.”

Friday night video fun: Best hustle plays of 2014-15 season

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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In two months, we’ll be watching real NBA regular season games.

Until then, we will have to go to YouTube to get our fix. Over at NBA.com, they put together a mix tape of the best hustle plays of the 2014-15 season and nothing will make you jones for a game that matters like these kinds of plays.

It’s not a coincidence you see stars like Chris Paul, LeBron James, Tim Duncan and Russell Westbrook in a highlight package like this. But don’t worry, there’s some Matthew Dellavedova, too.

Thaddeus Young says look for the Nets to run this season. Does Lionel Hollins know?

Golden State Warriors v Brooklyn Nets
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Last season, the Brooklyn Nets were 24th in the NBA in pace (possessions per game) under old-school coach Lionel Hollins. Before than Hollins had been in Memphis and when he took them over for the 2009-10 season they were a top 10 team in pace, but by the time he was let go they were dead last in the league. He’s not seen as a running coach.

But the Nets are going to run this year if you ask Thaddeus Young.

Young was on SiriusXM NBA Radio and talked about the Nets playing faster this season under Hollins.

Look at the Brooklyn Nets likely starting five — Jarrett Jack, Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Johnson, Thaddeus Young, Brook Lopez — and you see a group that can get out and run. Reserves such as Shane Larkin, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and even Andrea Bargnani (sprinting to the arc) would love to play more in transition. They are not going to be the Warriors, but the Nets don’t need to be slow.

But we’ll see what Hollins has in store for them. If he wants to pound it in to Lopez in the post or at the elbow, things will not be fast.

Kenneth Faried excited to see what Emmanuel Mudiay will do in Denver

USA Basketball Men's National Team Training Camp
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Kenneth Faried doesn’t want to hear it — no competitor does — but the reality is this is going to be a bit of a rebuilding campaign in Denver. They are not a playoff bound team, certainly not in the West; rather this is a year to fit in the pieces under new coach Mike Malone and build a foundation.

But when you have a rookie point guard there will be rough patches, and the Nuggets are going to have a rookie point guard — Emmanuel Mudiay.

Faried, for one, wants to see what the kid can bring. That’s what he told rappler.com while over in the Philippines.

“I have high expectations for him because he’s basically going to be our starting point guard and the Nuggets have high expectations,” said Faried, who signed a 4-year, $50 million rookie extension with Denver in October 2014.

“I just want to make sure he’s coached – that’s the only thing I want to make sure. I’m pretty sure he is and everybody says he is so I’m excited to see what happens.”

Mudiay impressed in Las Vegas at Summer League, in part because while all the other rookies were playing frenetic ball, looking like chickens with their heads cut off, Mudiay was patient and under control. He knew how to use his body to create space and draw contact, plus he showed fantastic court vision.

He also looked like a rookie at times and his shooting needs work. Which means it’s going to be a bumpy ride in Denver while he finds his footing in the NBA.

The Nuggets have veterans who can make Mudiay’s life easier — Faried, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler — but it’s going to take time. Particularly with a new coach and a new system. Nuggets fans, who have already seen some ugly basketball the past few years, are going to get more of it this season. But this time there is some real hope for what could be built.

Report: Toure’ Murry given non-guaranteed camp deal with Wizards

Washington Wizards v Sacramento Kings

Last season, Toure’ Murry got a 10-day contract with the Washington Wizards. Then he played on their team at Summer League. He’s seen as a guy with size (6’5″) and potential, but it has yet to really show itself and he’s been banged up when with the Wizards.

He’ll get another chance with a training camp, non-guaranteed deal with the Washington Wizards, reports J. Michael at CSNWashington.com.

When Murry did play, he scored six points and added one assist, one rebound and one steal in five games with the Wizards.

He’s joining a team that has all 15 spots filled for the 2015-16 season with guaranteed contracts, along with center Jaleel Roberts who also played for the Wizards in Las Vegas. There’s a strong likelihood that a roster spot will come available which makes the risk worth the reward.

I wouldn’t bet on him making the roster. The Wizards have John Wall, Ramon Sessions, and Garrett Temple with guaranteed deals at the point guard spot, then Bradley Beal and Gary Neal locked in at the two. Not a lot of minutes or space there unless they make a move.